National Study of Treatment and Recovery Residences (NSTARR)
National Database Information Sheet


What is the National Study of Treatment and Recovery Residences (NSTARR) project?

Recovery residences are a vital component of a comprehensive and recovery-oriented system of care. However, research on recovery housing has generally focused on certain types of recovery residences or residences in specific geographic regions. We also lack the means necessary to provide a complete picture of the national recovery housing landscape. The NSTARR project is a 4-year research study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that aims to:


1)   Examine the availability of recovery housing in the US and characterize where recovery residences are located;

2)   Characterize the national recovery housing landscape in terms of organizational and residence characteristics; policies, practices, and programming; and service delivery orientation and explore whether these characteristics vary depending on where residences are located;

3)   Identify underlying patterns among recovery residences and examine the association between these patterns and existing categorizations of treatment and recovery housing;

4)  Explore organizational, residence, policy, practice, programming, and service delivery orientation characteristics associated with recovery housing evidence-based practices (EBPs).


How will the NSTARR project meet these aims?

The NSTARR project will create a national database of all recovery residences in the U.S. and conduct a survey of recovery residences from this database. The database will include information from a variety of publicly available resources, which will help answer questions about the availability and environments of recovery housing. We will then randomly select and survey 800 residences in the database, making sure that all states are represented. The survey will collect information on house structure, policies, practices, programming, service orientation, and organization characteristics. The survey will be completed by recovery residence operators or someone who knows about the residence’s daily operations. To further understanding of recovery housing, we will publish findings from this study and archive the survey data for use by others for future research and monitoring purposes.


What information is being collected in the national database and how will it be used?

The national database will help ensure that we collect data on representative sample of recovery residences across the county. Information contained within it will also help us describe the landscape of recovery housing in the following ways:


§  House address will enable us to identify the resources available and neighborhood context around each residence (treatment programs, self-help meetings, US Census and crime statistics data)

§  Contact information, including phone number, website, and name and contact of house manager or operator (e-mail, phone number) will enable us to contact residences if they are sampled to complete the survey

§  Gender of residents served, number of beds, acceptance of adolescents and/or children, and organization information (if the house is part of a larger organization that runs one or more residences) will enable us to examine the residence capacity and variations in capacity


Information in the national database will be updated to reflect any new information received throughout the course of the study. If we obtain information for the database that is not publicly available, it will not be made publicly available unless we have permission from the facility to do so.

How will the information in the national database be protected and shared?

Our study procedures have been reviewed and approved by the Public Health Institute Institutional Review Board. All of the investigators and research staff involved in the project have completed a course on the Protection of Human Research Subjects approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Written materials will be maintained in locked filing cabinets or storage boxes, and computer spreadsheets will be saved in password-protected files. All electronically collected data will be stored on a secure web-based server.  All computers will have password protections to prevent unauthorized access and no participant identifying information other than research ID numbers will be entered into study laptops. Study findings will be reported in aggregate to minimize any potential threat of identification. We will adhere to all applicable state and federal confidentiality regulations.


The final version of the national recovery residence database will include data on the recovery residence name and the name of any larger organization that it is a part of, location (street address, city, state, and zip code), other locating information (telephone number and website), general information about the residence (gender served and capacity/number of beds), and the date information on the residence was entered/updated in the database. Location information will be included only for those residences whose addresses are already publicly available or that have given permission to list the address in the database. We will use data sharing agreements to share the data with national/state/local entities and academic researchers at the end of the study period. The data sharing agreement will require: (1) a commitment to using the data only for surveillance and research purposes; (2) a commitment to securing the data using appropriate computer technology; and (3) a commitment to not redistribute the data to third parties.


Will the survey data be publicly available?

The final version of the survey used in this study and accompanying documentation will be publicly available. A public use version of the final survey dataset will be stripped of identifiers. It will include sample weights and responses to items querying organizational and residence features, policies, practices, and programming, as well as service delivery orientation. It will be prepared for sharing/archiving according to best practices established by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). These data and associated documentation will also available at the end of the grant period to users via a data sharing agreement. This data sharing agreement will be similar to the one used for the recovery residence database except that it will also include a provision that users commit to destroying or returning the data after analyses are completed.  To further facilitate data sharing with the scientific community, we will also deposit the public use version of the final dataset and accompanying documentation to directly to ICPSR.


What is the potential impact of the NSTARR project?

This study will represent the largest and most diverse study of recovery housing to date. It will create a comprehensive list of recovery residences across the US, provide a tool to explore the characteristics of these residences, and create capacity for future research. Findings from this study will facilitate comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness studies of different types of recovery residences, studies identifying which sort of recovery residence works best for whom, and studies of policies and organizational practices that increase access, utilization, and quality standards for recovery housing.


Still have questions?

For further information, you may contact Dr. Amy Mericle, at